Chargers' Top 2021 NFL Draft Targets

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 28, 2021

Chargers' Top 2021 NFL Draft Targets

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    Matt Gentry/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Chargers had one of the most successful first-round picks in 2020 in Justin Herbert, who looks like the team's quarterback for the next decade. 

    The task in the first draft for Brandon Staley and his coaching staff will be to find protection for the quarterback to ensure he has more time to throw in the pocket. 

    Offensive tackle should be the primary target for the AFC West side, and one of the top three players at the position should be around at No. 13. 

    If that is not the case, the Chargers could look to improve other areas of their depth chart instead of reaching for a lineman they could land in the second or third rounds. 

Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

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    Matt Gentry/Associated Press

    The Chargers should have their eyes set on Virginia Tech's Christian Darrisaw and Rashawn Slater out of Northwestern.

    The likely scenario at No. 13 is for Darrisaw to be available. A handful of teams from No. 6-No.12 could swoop up Slater if Oregon's Penei Sewell is off the board.

    Los Angeles upgraded its offensive line in the last two offseasons by signing Corey Linsley and Bryan Bulaga away from the Green Bay Packers.

    Despite the improvements, the Chargers still need to get better at left tackle, where Trey Pipkins tops the depth chart.

    The Chargers have not chosen an offensive lineman in the first round since D.J. Fluker in 2013. Pipkins is one of eight interior players chosen since then in the mid-to-late rounds.

    Pro Football Focus projected the Chargers to land Darrisaw at No. 13, and he drew high praise from PFF's Steve Palazzolo.

    "Darrisaw is a people-mover in the run game in addition to being a solid pass protector. He gives the Chargers a chance to improve from being one of the league's worst offensive lines to one of the best in 2021."

    If the Chargers wanted to be aggressive in attacking their offensive line need, they could move up to No. 6 or No. 7 if Sewell is available, but Miami or Detroit may make deals elsewhere with teams in need of quarterbacks and could offer more to land them.

Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Alijah Vera-Tucker is the one offensive line prospect the Chargers should consider if Sewell, Slater and Darrisaw are off the board.

    Vera-Tucker played both guard and tackle at USC and could be a nice addition next to Linsley on the interior.

    Any top-tier reinforcement would be welcome for the Chargers to keep Herbert upright. He endured 32 sacks in his rookie season.

    If the Chargers avoid a high sack total, they have a much better chance of competing for a playoff position in a conference that has some loaded offenses.

    Since the teams in front of them are likely to go after quarterbacks, wide receivers and defensive backs, the Chargers should be able to land one of the top four offensive linemen.

Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    An argument can be made that the Chargers should attack the defensive interior to give Joey Bosa some more support when chasing down Patrick Mahomes and other opposing quarterbacks.

    A top edge-rusher might not intrigue the Chargers enough to choose him over an offensive tackle because Bosa and Jerry Tillery are in place.

    You could say the same thing about defensive tackle with Linval Joseph occupying the middle, but Christian Barmore may be worth the selection.

    Barmore came up with eight sacks and three forced fumbles during Alabama’s title run. He had 10 tackles and two sacks in the College Football Playoff.

    With the AFC North and NFC East on the 2021 schedule, the Chargers could use some extra pass-rushing help in their attempts to contain mobile quarterbacks such as Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts and Dak Prescott.


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    Statistics obtained from